It appears that the Green Bay Packers have found another gem on the offensive line in the late rounds of the NFL Draft. Jon Runyan, Jr., a sixth-round draft pick in April, has now been called into 50-plus snaps of action in consecutive games due to injuries to Corey Linsley, and the results have been outstanding.
With Elgton Jenkins moving inside to center and Runyan taking over at left guard, the Packers have not missed a beat, allowing just one sack combined over those two games and none on Sunday night against the Chicago Bears. Furthermore, the Packers’ running game was clicking with Runyan in the lineup, racking up over 180 total yards on the ground.
An interior group of Runyan, Jenkins, and Lucas Patrick looks like the line of the future in Green Bay given Linsley’s contract status. And if that indeed is the case, the Packers have every reason to think that they will be very happy with that starting trio.
Here are the full playing time numbers from Green Bay’s 41-25 win over the Bears on Sunday night.
OFFENSE (71 total)
Aaron Rodgers 69, Tim Boyle 2
Sunday’s game was not filled with incredible highlights for Aaron Rodgers, as Matt LaFleur’s play-action scheme did most of the heavy lifting for the passing game. But aside from an errant throw or two, Rodgers was accurate and made excellent decisions with the football, resulting in another excellent game. with a passer rating of 132.3 on the day, he has now posted a rating of 107 or higher in 10 out of the 11 games this season.
Rodgers also completed over 70 percent of his passes for the fourth game in a row and the sixth time this season. His yards per attempt were down a bit due to the Packers having just two explosive plays (20 or more yards) on Sunday, but both still game off Rodgers’ arm. The first was a 24-yard gain to Equanimeous St. Brown on a third-and-ten, while the other was the 39-yard score to Robert Tonyan.
Boyle entered for a pair of kneel-downs after Rodgers completed his final pass of the day, a short throw to Tonyan, to move the chains on 4th-and-2 and clinch the victory.
Aaron Jones 38, Jamaal Williams 33
The Packers got great complementary running from both backs in this game and although both players were split wide on occasion, they were non-factors in the passing game. Still, there was ample running room in the middle of the Bears’ defense on Sunday, as Akiem Hicks’ absence allowed the Packers to get excellent movement up front and clear the way for both runners. Each player had 17 carries on the day, with Jones averaging just over 5 yards per clip (90 yards total) and Williams at 4.3 per carry (73 total) with a touchdown.
Davante Adams 63, Marquez Valdes-Scantling 56, Equanimeous St. Brown 38, Allen Lazard 33, Darrius Shepherd 2, Malik Taylor 2
Adams had a solid if unspectacular game on Sunday, catching six of nine targets for 61 yards and the game’s opening touchdown. He is still averaging over 100 yards per game this season, though only barely, but he has at least nine targets in every game that he has not left or missed due to injury.
MVS did not see a single target in this game, as the Packers preferred to do their work in the passing game with throws to the crossing routes and the flat. Instead, Lazard and St. Brown were the secondary targets. Lazard caught four of six targets for 23 yards and a touchdown, averaging just 5.8 yards per reception but still getting credited with a “success” on each play based on the yardage gained vs. the down and yards needed. St. Brown had a pair of receptions, one for 15 yards and another for 24, and added a 7-yard run on a jet sweep to move the chains. He could use some improvement to his vision in following blockers, as he made a few questionable cuts, but his athletic ability allowed him to still pick up the necessary yardage.
On special teams, Taylor replaced Shepherd on kickoff returns, though Shepherd remained the Packers’ punt returner.
Robert Tonyan 41, Marcedes Lewis 33, Jace Sternberger 16
Tonyan actually ended up as the Packers’ leading receiver by yardage, as his 67 yards on five catches beat Adams by a few. Lewis caught a pair of passes for 16 yards, adding a five-yard touchdown for his third this season and fourth as a Packer.
Elgton Jenkins 71, Billy Turner 71, David Bakhtiari 69, Lucas Patrick 58, Jon Runyan 50, Corey Linsley 21, Rick Wagner 13, Yosh Nijman 2
The line is where things got a bit interesting. For the second straight game, Corey Linsley left early, this time with a knee injury. That is reported to be a sprained MCL, which will likely sideline him for a few games but should not keep him out for the remainder of the season. However, that gave the Packers another extended look at Jenkins playing center, with Runyan stepping in at left guard.
In short, that looks like the Packers’ interior line of the future, with Patrick at right guard. Linsley’s contract is up after this season and given the expected cap crunch in 2021, it’s difficult to imagine a way for the Packers to afford him. Additionally, he will turn 30 next July, and his recent injury issues may drive the Packers away.
Runyan played very well once again and is quickly establishing himself as a future full-time starter. With Linsley expected out for a few weeks, he will get the chance to demonstrate that starting ability over the next few games.
Meanwhile, Patrick left himself late in the game, suffering a toe injury. It did not sound serious, however, as he was listed as questionable to return and did not need to with the Packers up big. That brought Turner back to right guard with Wagner coming on at right tackle late in the game.
DEFENSE (68 total)
Kenny Clark 44, Dean Lowry 30, Kinsgley Keke 19, Tyler Lancaster 17, Billy Winn 8
On defense, the Packers went nickel and dime throughout the entire game once again, loading up on defensive backs after the offense spotted the team a big lead. The only entry in the pass-rushing portion of the stat sheet from this group came from Clark, predictably, who had one hit on quarterback Mitchell Trubisky. Otherwise, the one standout number was Billy Winn recording three total tackles in just eight snaps.
Za’Darius Smith 63, Preston Smith 45, Rashan Gary 43, Randy Ramsey 9
The Packers gave Gary the start over Preston Smith in this game and split the two players’ workloads almost evenly. This move seems to be an acknowledgement of what the media has been observing in recent weeks: that Gary has been simply playing better than Preston.
That said, Preston had arguably his best game of the season in response, and probably had one of his best as a Packer. In addition to his two QB hits, he had three tackles in the game, including a sack of Trubisky and a great play to snuff out a read-option attempt near the goal line, but his biggest play was scooping up a fumble and running it in 14 yards for the Packers’ fourth touchdown of the game. Za’Darius Smith was a force in this contest as well, with three hits on Trubisky and one sack. That sack was the play that forced the fumble for Preston as well.
Christian Kirksey 68, Kamal Martin 9, Oren Burks 5
With dime being the Packers’ primary personnel grouping on Sunday night, Martin barely saw the field after being in the starting lineup. He also was hurt late in the second quarter but returned before halftime, so any injury he suffered should not have limited his playing time. He recorded the first official sack of his career, chasing Trubisky out of bounds short of the line of scrimmage on a scramble attempt.
Kirksey finished the game with a quiet five tackles, in large part due to the Bears’ quick move to the passing game. Chicago attempted just 13 rushes with their running backs compared to 46 pass attempts, and with Kirksey only targeted occasionally, that meant that the secondary was more apt to be in on the play.
Adrian Amos 68, Raven Greene 51, Darnell Savage 39, Will Redmond 30
Indeed, the Packers’ top three tacklers were defensive backs, led by Amos and Greene with seven tackles apiece. Greene was credited with a pass breakup as well, coming on a third-and-goal pass to Allen Robinson on the opening drive that he forced out. However, it was Savage who had the big splash plays in the secondary, picking off Trubisky twice. One pick came on a deep shot play that he recognized from week one against the Vikings, while the other was an athletic play in underneath coverage on a terrible decision by Trubisky. The Packers turned both of those picks into touchdowns on the ensuing offensive series.
Jaire Alexander 68, Kevin King 66, Chandon Sullivan 64, Ka’Dar Hollman 2
While Savage had his hands on two passes and hauled them both in, King broke up three passes of his own to lead the team. Those were his first three pass breakups this year after having 15 a year ago. King also added four tackles, while Alexander had six and Sullivan just one.
SPECIAL TEAMS LEADERS
Burks 19, Ty Summers 19, Greene 17, Ramsey 17, Redmond 16, Martin 14, Taylor 14, Sullivan 13, De’Jon Harris 12, Vernon Scott 12